October 2010

Sing a Song for Old Marcellus

This weekend I went home to do some "research" on my wee little book project known as NaNoWriMo, which starts a week from today. Gah! (Deep breaths.)

I can't remember the last time I was so excited for something or so nervous. The book is going to be an autobiographical novel my high school years, and I'm realizing my memory of those four years in Marcellus is a little rusty. I was hoping the trip to my hometown would help dislodge some memories and also help me collect my thoughts. When I get all jazzed up about writing something, I tend to narrate in my head a lot, but that wasn't really happening with the book. I have been taking lots of little notes and *thinking* about it a lot, but I haven't been able to figure out how I actually want to write this stuff. So I figured I needed a little immersion therapy time in Marcellus. I made plans to get together with Taryn, who has been living back in the area for the last few years and who always had a better memory and attention to detail than I do.

So Saturday, we went to the Marcellus senior class spaghetti dinner so I could actually get in the school. There were two main highlights and two main lowlights:

  • Highlight #1 was seeing one of my favorite high school teachers. (Ms. Nic!)
  • Lowlight #1 was when one of the nice senior girls gave Greta a 12 oz cup of apple cider that was filled the brim and Greta took two sips and then promptly dumped the rest on the floor and then I had to sit there nervously while said favorite former teacher mopped it up. Ah well.
  • Highlight #2 was when we took a little uninvited tour around part of the building, and it was really fun to see what had changed (almost nothing), what had stayed the same (just about everything), and watch Greta and Oliver running through the halls like they were in a John Mayer song.

Greta and Oliver in Marcellus

  • Lowlight #2 was partway through dinner I got a bright red, itchy rash over a good portion of my face due what I'm guessing was either allergies or nerves or a combination of the two. I think the key takeaway is that Marcellus gives me a rash.

Sunday, we hung out at my parents' house for a bit. My mom pulled my old dance costumes and Halloween costumes out of the attic, so Greta got to dress up like the devil (or what we were calling "a red kitty" because I didn't have the wherewithal to explain to a four year old who the devil is at the time), a cheerleader, a jailbird, and, um, I guess a Yankee Doodle Sweetheart?

Red, White, and Blue Greta

In the afternoon I ditched my family and spent a few uninterrupted hours with Taryn so I could "interview" her and drive around Marcellus a bit and take pictures.

Talking to Taryn was great. It was not only informative, it was also really fun to spend time with Taryn, reminiscing and rediscovering our old stomping grounds.

Taryn took a picture of me where the building once was in which I worked from November of 1991 until a few days before I left for college in 1995. It has since been replaced by, um, really tall ornamental grasses (I'm not a little person - not that there's anything wrong with that). This picture could be titled "NERVOUS." That's me.

I was still feeling pretty scattered about the book yesterday during the drive home and in the evening, and then when I went to bed my brain wouldn't turn off and I was narrating the book in my head! Hallelujah!  I kept using my phone to draft notes. (Note to self: get a pen and notebook on the night stand.) That was sort of a breakthrough for me, and now I really, really can't wait for November 1st!

The other purpose of going home this weekend was that Greta has been asking for weeks if we could go to Grandma Norma and Hoppa's to jump in their leaves. Yes, we have leaves in Rochester, but apparently they're not as good as theirs.

Missions accomplished.


Good times, bad times (and lots o' pictures)

This week was full of highs and lows. Lists and lots of pictures seem in order. Still, this is a long one. You might want to grab a snack.

- The father of one of my best friends passed away. Knowing one of your best friends is in pain and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it is a horrible feeling, to put it mildly.

+ We went with friends Michael, Christy, Colin, and Miles to the George Eastman House, making it Greta's first visit (I'm guessing of many). Michael took some wonderful pictures of Colin and Greta playing in the gardens, and he will hopefully not mind me reposting some here.

This one I took with my phone during a moment of quiet. She looked like I felt (see minus above), which is why I let her get comfortable on a big bench in a room that was occupied but just us while we watched an old black and white movie for a bit.

+ My brother wears a suit all week long and then transforms into "Weekend Phil." Here is a great article featuring my brother and his latest obsession, cyclocross.

- I was in such a fog this week I completely forgot to go to my book club meeting. This is very unlike me. It's the thing I look forward to most each month, and I'm sad I missed it.

+ We have a new tradition. Pat has been staying late at work on Wednesdays as a focused effort to catch up on school work, and Greta and I have declared Wednesday night "Funsday Night." We have done something fun each week to really appreciate our one-on-one time together. It usually invoves some type of tasty dinner and some other fun activity, like going for a hike, browsing books at Barnes & Noble, a manicure, listening to live music, baking, etc. It's something I look forward to each week (even though we miss PattyCakes, of course).

-/+ We wrapped up what has been a process of more than three months worth of dental work for Greta. I lead a pretty damned charmed life, I gladly admit, so I will say that at the outset of this process, this felt like the hardest thing I've ever dealt with. We have a great pediatric dentist, though, and Greta was such a huge trooper that, all in all, it was actually fairly painless (in a this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you kind of way, of course). And now I'm glad we're done - for now at least, and in the grand scheme of things, I feel lucky that everything was fixable and that Greta probably won't require therapy later in life (due to this experience, at least).

-/+ After a bit of a scary night Thursday night and an appointment first thing Friday AM, Greta was (finally) diagnosed with asthma and we (finally) got her some therapy/medication that is helping her. She's on three meds right now and we are the proud renters of a nebulizer/compressor, but my baby can almost breathe like a normal person now, thankfully.

+ We went to an awesome squash dinner. Our friend Ian has had an annual squash dinner for 10 years, and we were excited to invited to the 10th anniversary event. I've always been sort of "meh" about squash, but all of the food was so great that this week I have been having a love affair with squash. I can't stop preparing and eating squashy foods. Yum. Speaking of squash, if you don't mind some naughty lauguage and like to laugh a lot, you should check out this genius piece of writing.

+ We had a great day today. The highlights include walking around at RIT's Brick City festival and just having a nice low-key day. Pat and Greta carved a pumpkin while I cooked dinner (a pasta dish with two types of squash, if you must know).

Here are some pictures of Greta at Global Village (a new area in RIT that when I heard about it I thought sounded hokey as hell but which is actually a really cool place).

And here's the aforementioned jack-o'-lantern. Look how cute!


It's All Right

File under: greta

Greta's finally going to start pulling her own weight around here because we made her get an after-school job.



You again??

File under: weekend update

Hey dudes,

We had a very full weekend and I feel like I can barely put a sentence together, but I'm practically on a blog-writing bender here, so here you go.

Friday morning we headed out to Ithaca to meet up with some friends to go to a Dan Zanes show and get a great meal at Moosewood. The show was ball of chaotic fun. Pat "Fast Fingers" Reed scored us third-row tickets, but it really didn't even matter because I think almost everyone in the theater squeeze in front of the first row. Toward the end a bunch of parents sort of tossed their kids up on stage. I thought DZ or someone else would put the kibosh on that, but he and the band were unfazed. Eventually I let Greta go up there too, and I think it's pretty awesome that she got to do that. I have been to many shows, but I've never been up on stage. How cool is that? Here's how DZ does the smooth exit. You can see Greta on stage and you can almost see the thought bubble over her head, wondering where he's going.

Greta at the Dan Zanes show from Fran Reed on Vimeo.

Greta was like a young Courtney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video, but with 50 of her closest friends.

After a fantastic meal at Moosewood, we went to the Children's Garden to play for a bit and then headed home.

Today, we headed to Brown's Berry Patch for a very chilly birthday party. I think I am still thawing out from that, but we had a blast.

Getting ready for boot camp.

Greta: I'm on a Boat.

On the hayride.

I am incapable of making a nice face around this creepy Pooh.

I am better now that I'm not near Pooh.


The business of book writing...

Those of you who still check in at ye olde pnf.com are probably sick of the doughnut business, eh? Sorry about that. It's been busy! I won't go into how work and school are busy and how I am feeling sort of like this. And I will skip the part about how Greta's dance and swimming classes are a blast but how they, coupled with the usual weekend busy-ness, make the weekend go by in a flash. And I will even skip the part about how I got totally suckered into the Dragon Tattoo series and how I'm midway through the second book in the series. (See how I just skipped all of that stuff?)
The most exciting thing going on with me is that I've taken the plunge and signed up for this year's National Novel Writing Month. I've got a plot, and I think I can do it! I know everybody and their brother wants to write a book, but most people are all talk. I am one of those people (who wants to write a book), and I am really, really hoping I'm not all talk.
I am planning on writing about a time from my life that when I have told people in recent years stories from that time, they say something akin to, "Whoa, you should totally write a book about that!" I have also gotten a lot of encouragement over the years from friends and family that they like my writing style and I should write a book, yada yada. So I am trying to put my self-consciousness aside and just go for it.
I think NaNoWriMo is exactly what I need. On one hand, the pressure is off: The focus is on quantity rather than quality. If I can just get something written, I will have fulfilled my personal goal. Anything above and beyond that will just be gravy. On the other hand, the pressure is on: There is a short deadline and a few strict requirements. I thrive on deadlines and rules!
I won't give too many details on the book, but as a bit of a teaser, I will tell you that the book contains the following: a car crash, a drug dealer, a secret wedding, p0rnography, a 300-lb theif tried in Judo, a creepy bus driver, learning how to make change, ugly people, one heavy petting session, and MURDER AND INTRIGUE!
And it's all true, to the best of my selective recollection, except maybe the intrigue part.
I am sort of terrified to write it all down and hopefully not either find out I don't have nearly enough material or to just somehow fail miserably...I am actually sort of shaking even talking about it. Grumble, grumble. I can't actually start writing-writing until November. For now, I'm outlining the plot and just trying to collect my thoughts and feeling nervous. Encouragement welcomed in the comments section!